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Faces of Blue: Robert Stricklin

Robert Stricklin lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife Ivy, two kids named Karter and Reagan, three dogs, and a cat. He works as a first aid and workplace safety supervisor for Cintas, and spends his free time as a soccer referee.

Five years ago in October, Robert was diagnosed with rectal cancer. In 2014, Robert had gone in for a colonoscopy after noticing blood in his stool. The doctor told him he had hemorrhoids and that was the cause of the blood.

Over the next several years, Robert continued to see blood in his stool, and digestive issues. A second colonoscopy in 2019 confirmed that there was a tumor in his rectum – he was diagnosed with stage I rectal cancer. Robert started chemotherapy pills and radiation to shrink the tumor in his low rectum. In total, he underwent 25-28 rounds of radiation therapy.

In April 2020, Robert underwent his first surgery on his second wedding anniversary. Of course, this was during the height of COVID lockdown, and Ivy was not permitted inside to visit him. While he was recuperating post-surgery, Robert watched a parade for healthcare workers through the hospital windows.

After surgery, a test of Robert’s lymph nodes revealed that there was cancer in his system. He underwent 6 more rounds of chemotherapy. Robert had an ostomy procedure, which was then reversed in October 2020.

Robert is a fairly “open book” person, and copes with hard situations with humor and positivity. He jokes that his wife would say that he handled cancer better than he handles a sinus infection.

Support from his family and company were crucial during his recovery, and Robert was careful to make sure that his attitude didn’t negatively affect them. During the time that Robert had been sick at home, his co-workers organized a parade past his house in over twenty Cintas vans, bearing signs of support.

Robert is now heavily involved in a young survivors group in Charlotte. It’s important to him to raise awareness, advocate for research, and encourage anyone going through treatment to seek out others who have been through something similar.

When he meets someone now who is facing a diagnosis, he encourages them to ask their doctor as many questions as possible to avoid surprises. “You might think your world is going to end, but I am evidence that it’s possible to get back to normal.” Robert is back to living a healthy and active life now as a soccer referee and devoted husband and father.



Join the discussion One Comment

  • Mark H says:

    Robert, I have a similar story and I am now 11 years with a stoma. I used to live in Charlotte actually Monroe now I’m living in Mississippi. I have a question. What do you use after dumping your bag to eliminate odors in the house. I struggle with this. Haven’t found anything that really works. Appreciate any help.

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